News of the Week: Why I Wear a Watch, James Bond Has No Time to Die, and Are You Ready for Pumpkin Spice Spam?

In the news for the week ending August 23, 2019, are a wristwatch, a movie to watch, some meat to eat, infeasible heat, and much more.

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Don’t You Own a Cellphone?

I’ve had a lot of odd things happen to me at the supermarket. I’ve been laughed at by a girl working the register because my bald head was really shiny. I’ve had a guy practically growl at me because I accidentally put more than 10 items through the “10 Items or Fewer” line. One time I was almost run over by a robot.

This week was no different, as a kid laughed at me because I was wearing a watch.

Now, in the list of things you could laugh at someone about, this has to be way down on the list, right after “eating pizza with a knife and fork” and just before “breathing.” But the kid (and at my age I call anyone 30 and under “kid”) couldn’t stop shaking his head, as if I were carrying a sundial or churning my own butter. I mean, it’s a watch. I understand there are other devices that we carry now that have a clock on them, but are we as a society officially at the “laughing at people who still wear watches” stage? Is that where we are now?

I wear a watch because it’s convenient, right there on my wrist. I just have to glance at it. I don’t want to have to pull out my phone (my FLIP PHONE) just to see what time it is. I know I can’t update my Facebook status from my Timex, but I like the way it looks, and want to keep some sort of connection to the way things used to be done.

I paid for my groceries, and as I pushed my cart away, I noticed that the woman who bagged my groceries was wearing a watch. She smiled and gave me one of those “young people today!” looks, and I smiled back.

New Bond Movie Has a Title

I don’t know if I love it. No Time to Die? Sounds like the title of a generic straight-to-video action movie starring Steven Seagal. But I’ll be sitting in the theater when it comes out on April 8, 2020.

Spam News

Is there a less appreciated, more dumped-on food product than Spam?

Whenever someone talks about cheesy foods, what product comes to mind? When they had to come up with a word for the annoying, never-ending emails we get, what name did they give it? Exactly.

The funny thing is, Spam tastes pretty good! Here’s the secret: You don’t want to see how the sausage (or in this case, pork) is made. Meaning, I’d eat Spam, but I would never open the can. It doesn’t look great. But I remember my mom making it for dinner once in a while — she fried it — and I liked it. Probably because I didn’t have to see it pre-fried as a gelatinous mass.

Now you can have Spam with the flavor of pumpkin spice! On September 23, Hormel will release a version of the canned meat product with an autumnal taste. I think it sounds okay actually — a pork product with fall flavors is a natural — though it should be noted that there won’t be any actual pumpkin involved. The term “pumpkin spice” has come to mean the flavors of allspice, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, and sugar. You can eat some pumpkin spice Spam while drinking your Starbucks or McDonald’s pumpkin spice drinks, which go on sale next week (yes, it’s getting earlier and earlier every year).

Alas, you’re not going to be able to buy this Spam everywhere. You’ll only be able to get it at Hormel’s site and Walmart’s online store.

When You Wish Upon a Star

In 1985, at the age of 14, Tamia Richardson visited Disneyland. Back then, a ticket to the theme park was only $16.50 (today the cheapest ticket is $90.00). To celebrate the park’s 30th anniversary in 1985, the park gave away prizes to every 30th visitor. Richardson won a free pass to the park. She forgot about it for the past 34 years, but as she was planning for a return visit with her daughters, she came upon it. Could she still use it? She brought it with her and … the park honored it!

Meanwhile, in an Alternate Universe …

RIP Peter Fonda, Ernie Colón, Jack Perkins, Jack Whitaker, Richard Williams, Kip Addotta, and Katreese Barnes

Peter Fonda was probably best known for his role in the ’60s rebel classic Easy Rider, which he co-wrote with Dennis Hopper and Terry Southern. The son of actor Henry Fonda and brother of actress Jane, Fonda also appeared in movies like Tammy and the Doctor, Race with the Devil, Futureworld, and Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry, as well as TV shows like Naked City, Wagon Train, Californication, and ER. He died last week at the age of 79.

Ernie Colón was a comic book artist who not only drew characters like Richie Rich and Casper the Friendly Ghost, but also the acclaimed comic book adaptation of the government’s 9/11 Commission Report. He died last month at the age of 88.

Jack Perkins was a newsman for NBC, an author, and the host of A&E’s Biography. He died Monday at the age of 85.

Jack Whitaker was a veteran sportscaster for CBS and ABC, on hand for everything from the first Super Bowl and the Olympics to baseball, horse racing, and (especially) golf. He won two Emmys for his work and was also known for his essays. He died last weekend at the age of 95.

Richard Williams was an Oscar-winning animator known for his work on Who Framed Roger Rabbit? He also worked on the 1971 animated version of A Christmas Carol, two Pink Panther movies, and many other films. He died last week at the age of 86.

Kip Addotta was a stand-up comic in the ’70s and ’80s who appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson many times, hosted the Playboy Channel’s Everything Goes, and even had a couple of cult-hit satirical songs. He was also a mentor to other comics. He died last week at the age of 75.

You might not know the name Katreese Barnes, but you probably know her music. She was the woman behind the scenes of Saturday Night Live who composed the music for many of their classic sketches (including one I can’t print here — let’s just call it “____ in a Box”). She won two Emmys for her work. Before joining the show, she was in a band called Juicy which scored a few hits in the ’80s, and also did studio work and background vocals for such people as Roberta Flack, Chaka Khan, and Sting. She died last week at the age of 56.

This Week in History

First Soap Box Derby (August 19, 1934)

The first official Soap Box Derby was held in Dayton, Ohio. It was started by Dayton Daily News photographer Myron Scott, who had organized a smaller event the year before that was so popular he decided to hold a bigger, annual event. It’s held every July in Akron, Ohio.

One of the more interesting stories surrounding the event was the massive cheating scandal that happened in 1973.

The Mona Lisa Stolen (August 21, 1911)

The man behind one of the most sensational art heists in history, Vincenzo Peruggia, always said that he had worked alone. But was that true?

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Encyclopedia Britannica (August 17, 1957)

Ad for Encyclopedia Britannica from the August 17, 1957 issue of The Saturday Evening Post.
Encyclopedia Britannica advertisement from August 17, 1957. (SEPS) (Click to Enlarge)

Before smartphones and Google, we had to lug around 24 heavy books in our pockets if we wanted to look up something.

Are There Too Many National “Something” Days?

Every week in this section of my column, I talk about what national food or drink day it is and link to several different recipes you might want to try (by the way, today is National Sponge Cake Day). It occurred to me several months ago that, boy, there sure are a lot of national days. Maybe too many? I mean, almost every day is dedicated to some sort of food or drink, from pasta and doughnuts and beer to peaches and cookies and whiskey. A couple of weeks ago we had Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day which, believe it or not, isn’t a euphemism. There are days for events too, local, national, and historical.

The Atlantic’s James Hamblin agrees with me and writes about it in this piece. Many holidays were created by food companies just to plug their own products, or by websites who want to get in on the act (though I guess holidays have to start somewhere). They’re certainly not something I’m going to stop talking about though, even if there are a lot of them. With all the craziness in the world, we need a little daily fun, and trying a new recipe or mixing a cocktail are the ultimate escapes.

You can create your own holiday yourself if you find something that hasn’t been taken yet. Maybe you can start a new family tradition. I hereby declare that February 3 is now National Saturday Evening Post Day.

That’s Norman Rockwell’s birthday. To celebrate, you can make his favorite cookies.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

National Dog Day (August 26)

Honestly, if you own a dog, every day is National Dog Day.

U.S. Open Starts (August 26)

Will Serena Williams win her 24th Grand Slam, tying Margaret Court’s record? Will a newcomer like Coco Gauff find a way to win? Will Nick Kyrgios smash a racket or throw a chair? Tune in to ESPN and the Tennis Channel to find out!

 

Featured image: Shutterstock.com.

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Comments

  1. Bob: He was indeed an employee, working the register. These incidents are probably my fault, really. I shouldn’t have been wearing a watch or bald.

  2. You really HAVE had a lot of odd things happen to you at the grocery store, Bob. You didn’t indicte whether or not this ‘kid’ that was laughing because you were wearing a watch was a store employee or not. If he was, I would have reported him to the store manager, just as I would have the female checker that other time. It’s rude and unprofessional, and they need to be held accountable. If he wasn’t, then he was just a weirdo (lots of people wear watches) that’s best ignored.

    Speaking of those, there have been at least a dozen or more intended mass shooters busted and arrested just since the El Paso and Dayton killings. All the more reason to thank God there was no Woodstock 50 festival, and the anniversary is now past. As far as watches go, I’m getting myself a “new” ’57 classic Hamilton Ventura; the world’s first elctronic watch, still straight out of the Jetsons!

    I’m indifferent on the new ‘Bond’ film, and don’t quite know what to make of the Spam, Canned Spam. I’m glad Disneyland honored Tamia’s free pass to Disneyland. Frankly, I’m surprised! Hate to say it, but the cheapest ticket now is $104, or $115 or whatever, depending on the day apparently…

    Sorry to hear about Peter Fonda’s passing. After ‘Easy Rider’ he didn’t have it so easy. It’s hard to be the son of a father and older sister that have had truly legendary film careers. Still, when I was in high school and on the school paper, I wrote good reviews for both ‘Dirty Mary and Crazy Larry’ and ‘Race With the Devil’. The latter was definitely post ‘Rosemary’s Baby’, and also featured Loretta Swit and the beautiful, bewitching Lara Parker.

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